Skip to content
Medical Health Aged Care, Science


WCMT & UQ 2 mins read

A Churchill Fellow from Victoria says it’s vital that behavioural data and communication expertise is added to the Centre for Disease Control, so we learn the lessons from the pandemic and ensure effective infectious disease control. 


Churchill Fellow, Margie Danchin says the pandemic clearly demonstrated how a lack of understanding of the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of different populations led to poor adherence to public health advice. 


According to Ms Danchin, public health decision making was primarily informed by health expertise and lacked the broader social, psychological, and educational perspectives. 


Data to understand how and why people made decisions is needed for infectious disease control and to inform effective pandemic policy measures, Ms Danchin wrote in her research paper Embedding social and behavioural science expertise in public health decision-making within the interim Australian CDC. 


The article is jointly presented by The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and The University of Queensland, as part of their partnership to develop the flagship publication Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda. This publication features succinct and timely policy articles written by Churchill Fellows and will be released at the Churchill Policy Room event at Australian Parliament House on 27 June.  


The Churchill Policy Room event is part of the Policy Impact Program, the partnership between the University of Queensland and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to showcase the research and recommendations of Churchill Fellows working in policy reform. 


Margie Danchin was awarded her Churchill Fellowship in 2020 sponsored by Bob and June Prickett.. She travelled to Switzerland and the USA to improve vaccine and risk communication to optimise COVID and routine vaccine acceptance and uptake. Margie is a paediatrician at the Royal Childrens Hospital and a clinical scientist, at the University of Melbourne and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. Her research focuses on vaccine confidence and uptake in Australia and globally, and effective risk communication. 


Quotes attributable to Margie Danchin 


“Many policy response measures during COVID-19 such as prolonged lockdowns and business closures were based on virology and epidemiology advice to ensure optimal health outcomes without adequate consideration of the potential negative social and economic impacts. 


“Bringing social scientists to the table early would have ensured diverse perspectives were considered to inform more balanced policy measures. 


“Communication expertise is also needed to mitigate the impacts of public health emergencies and positively impact public health. 


“Government and public health leaders often struggled with poor transparency and the capacity to acknowledge uncertainty. 


“The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted Australia’s immunisation services, reduced vaccine confidence and increased the spread of misinformation in Australia, and globally. 


“Effective public communication expertise needs to be underpinned by the cardinal principles of risk communication, with trusted spokespeople engaged, and messaging that educates and resonates with target audiences, taking health literacy into account.

Contact details:

Media contact: Matt Neagle | 0408 207 256 |


Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.